William Steinway von Bernuth

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William S. von Bernuth (b. December 19, 1892 in New York City; d. January 7, 1951 in Bethesda, Maryland) was the only son and younger child of William's daughter Paula and her husband, Louis von Bernuth. William von Bernuth married Alma Baribault of New Haven, Connecticut on June 2, 1919. Together they had two children, Madeleine and Suzanne.(3) William had extensive military experience and, at the time of his death, was an executive with the Veteran's Administration.(1)

William delighted in his grandson and mentioned him many times in the diary. Examples abound in the diary of William noting his grandson's progress in learning to walk and run, in talking, and in entertaining William with his antics.(Diary, 1893-11-15, 1894-03-24, 09-30, 11-11) William paid particular attention to the childhood illnesses that his grandson "Bum," as the child called himself as a toddler, suffered.(Diary, 1895-02-26, 06-02,) William frequently took his grandson on carriage rides to Steinway Hall in the mornings, writing at one point that "My little grandson drives to Steinway Hall with me every morning."(Diary, 1894-11-17) On occasion, he took "Bum" to meetings, such as a Rapid Transit Commission meeting, where Bum greatly enjoyed an elevator ride.(Diary, 1894-11-27) William summarized their relationship when he wrote, "My Grandson "Bum" is 2? years old and a most charming little fellow, he and I being great friends."(Diary, 1895-06-19) William left Bum and his sister Meta a cash bequest in his will.(4)

William S. von Bernuth never worked for Steinway & Sons. He graduated from Yale University in 1917 and served in the army in World War I. He later received a master of science degree in engineering from Purdue University and taught there for a time. In World War II he was awarded the Legion of Merit and reached the rank of colonel. After the war, he was active in the army reserve in Washington, D.C. At the time of his death, he was an official with the Veterans' Administration. William died on January 7, 1951, from an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound that he received at home as he was cleaning a weapon.(1) He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.(2)



  1. "Bullet Kills Colonel as He Cleans Pistol," The Washington Post, January 8, 1951, p. B1.
  2. "Died," The Washington Post, January 9, 1951, p. B2.
  3. Maniha, Ken, Steinway Family Genealogy
  4. "Steinway's Many Bequests," The New York Times, December 11, 1896, p. 9.